"Promise me one thing, Pete. If I die over here, carry me back to my family and bury me in my home town. I don't want to be buried on this side among all the fucking billboards. "
A powerful and provocative film about redemption, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is one of the surprise hits of 2005. This film is about the untimely death of Melquiades Estrada, a Mexican befriended by a local rancher in a small Texas border town hellbent on administering justice to a new hot-headed, racist Border Patrolmen who's poor judgment and itchy trigger finger inadvertently cost Estrada his life.
Set in the beautiful backdrop of Texas and Mexico, this powerful and spellbinding film is a great story of redemption. It also displays the unbreakable bond of friendship, even in the face of intolerance where to befriend a Mexican was frowned upon.
This film strives off the charisma of it's two leads: Tommy Lee Jones as the vigilante rancher and Barry Pepper as the ill-tempered Border Patrolman. However, Pepper really steals the show here. No disrespect to Jones, but his character was fairly one dimensional, and he plays that kind of character with ease. Pepper's transformation from a narrow-minded bigot to a broken man begging for deliverance was absolutely brilliant. Pepper proves once again that he is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. There are also some strong performances in smaller roles from January Jones as Pepper's neglected wife and Dwight Yoakem as the town sheriff.
Points taken off for some minor plot holes, including the fact that Lee inevitably would've been caught by police before reaching his long destination in Mexico.
Regardless, watch this for the riveting performance by Barry Pepper.
"I'm sorry, Melquiades! For taking your life, I'm sorry! "